DHW Director: DisAbility Rights Idaho report is inaccurate and incomplete

A troubling report released today by DisAbility Rights Idaho presents an inaccurate and incomplete picture of our operations at the Southwest Idaho Treatment Center (SWITC) in Nampa.

The report makes some serious allegations about our staff and our ability to provide a safe home for the residents of SWITC. None of the issues raised in the report are new or recent. In fact, all of the issues have been and continue to be addressed. While we appreciate and respect the work done by DisAbility Rights Idaho, we have serious issues with a report that contains numerous factual inaccuracies. Information gained during our own investigations and licensure surveys has led to increased emphasis on ensuring the safety of our residents and our employees. We have done our best to be transparent. But we are also bound by privacy and confidentiality laws that limit what we can say. We are not able to provide the additional context necessary to tell the entire story.

Contrary to what the report says, we first notified media and the public in August 2017 when we identified inappropriate and abusive employee behavior that was not meeting our standards. We launched an extensive internal investigation into the allegations. As a result, six employees were terminated. However, the Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office declined to file criminal charges based on the Nampa Police Department investigation.

A licensure survey last summer and follow-up surveys resulted in several findings that we are continuing to address. SWITC has implemented plans of correction that also must be approved and checked as part of the licensure surveys.

SWITC annual licensure survey ended this past week.  It was a full survey that looked at SWITC’s compliance with more than 470 federal regulations. The surveyors also conducted a complaint investigation, addressing some of the same allegations DRI makes in its report. The survey team reviewed many of the abuse investigation reports from 2017 and 2018 and interviewed clients, staff, parents, guardians, and agencies, including Adult Protection Services.  Continue reading

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Tearjerker Alert: Idaho kids tell their stories about being raised by relatives

2018cover“I have always called my grandpa Dad because he has always raised and treated me the way a father should.” – Greyson, age 8.

“I’ve lived with my grandparents since 7 years old and I can’t describe how much they’ve changed my life. Without their support, love and kindness, I wouldn’t be doing half of what I do.” – Madysen, age 15.

“Ever since my mom passed away my family started falling apart and it didn’t feel like the same no more. I’m glad I got to live with my sister because she is always there for me no matter what.” – Lidia, age 13.

“My new family has five brothers and sisters and two parents, who are my aunt and uncle, but I call them Mom and Dad.” – Emily, age 6.

Read the rest of their stories and see artwork from other Idaho children who were recognized in the Idaho KinCare Project 2018 My Family. My Story. contest hereContinue reading

Attend the Kincare Speaking Tour May 22-24: Help for Idaho’s 28,000 “grandfamilies”

KincareTourAcross the United States, almost 7.8 million children are living in homes where grandparents or other relatives are the householders, with more than 5.8 million children living in grandparents’ homes and nearly 2 million children living in other relatives’ homes. These families are often called “grandfamilies.”

Here in Idaho, the numbers of “grandfamilies” is just as sobering:   Continue reading

It’s the Week of the Young Child! We’re celebrating early learning, young children, teachers and Idaho families!

WOYC

Contributed by: Ashtin Glōdt, Program Specialist, Maternal, Infant, Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare

The Week of the Young Child is an annual celebration hosted by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). From April 16 to 21, Idahoans will be celebrating early learning, young children, their teachers, and families.

Locally, the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children (Idaho AEYC) leads the celebration efforts with community events across the state. This year the Idaho AEYC will be holding a FREE family-friendly outdoor celebration at the Boise Botanical Gardens on Saturday, April 21st. Visit idahoaeyc.org for more information about community events and how to get involved in the Idaho AEYC. Continue reading

Thanksgiving is also National Family Health History Day – Do you know the medical history of your relatives?

family-photo-827763_640When the U.S. Surgeon General declared in 2004 that National Family Health History Day would fall on Thanksgiving each year, he was acknowledging the importance of knowing your family health history. You and your family share genes, culture, behaviors, and environments – all of which can have an impact on your health. When you know that information and share it with your doctor, he or she can make more informed choices for how to personalize your health screenings and treatment. Thanksgiving can be a great time to talk with your family about how your health is related, so you can give your doctor the best information possible. Continue reading

WIC program sponsors 1st-ever Idaho Breastfeeding Summit to continue support for mothers and babies

Mimi Fetzer

By Mimi Fetzer, RDN, LD Breastfeeding Coordinator for the Idaho WIC Program of IDHW’s Division of Public Health

In the summer of 2016, the Idaho Women, Infants, Children (WIC) program’s breastfeeding accomplishments helped it receive a Breastfeeding Bonus Award of $103,882 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Breastfeeding4

The Idaho Breastfeeding Summit drew 160 participants Aug. 1-3 in Boise.

Many of the WIC-designated breastfeeding experts also participate in the Idaho Breastfeeding Coalition to help supplement their knowledge and community outreach efforts. It was proposed that a large portion of the Idaho Breastfeeding Bonus Award go toward funding a first-ever Idaho Breastfeeding Summit, a conference that would strengthen breastfeeding efforts currently benefiting the state of Idaho. Continue reading

Six SWITC employees disciplined for abuse, neglect of residents

NAMPA – The Department of Health and Welfare has finished its investigation into allegations of physical and psychological abuse and neglect by staff members involving seven adult residents at the Southwest Idaho Treatment Center (SWITC) in Nampa.

The investigation revealed a localized issue involving six employees. Disciplinary action up to and including termination has been taken against all the employees who were found to have engaged in conduct considered abuse and/or neglect. They have either voluntarily left employment or were terminated for cause.

The investigation determined there were two main perpetrators who psychologically and/or physically abused residents. There was no sexual abuse.

Four employees were aware of the psychological abuse by the two employees and did not report it, which constitutes neglect. Continue reading